In the mid 1980’s theatre and performing arts classes in Licking County were limited to local dance studios, and school programs. By 1998 the failing local school levies made it increasingly difficult for schools to offer arts programming.
It was out of this growing need Weathervane Playhouse began offering short summer classes. These classes were a two week half day workshop, where students would learn theatre games, terms, and would build their own mini productions. The classes at that time were held outside in the Gazebo & in the outdoor lobby of the theatre.
In 1998 we broke ground on the Larry W. & Dawn Holt Anderson Children’s Theatre. This allowed our classes a place of their own to rehearse and perform. It also allowed for other local groups to utilize a maleable performance space. Weathervane was able to offer the only consistent professional arts programming in Licking County.
In 2006 WYART, Weathervane Young Artists’ Repertory Theatre, was established by the late Matthew Trombetta. Matthew’s vision included offering year round core curriculum programming, as well as full scale productions devoted to the education of young artists.
WYART continued to grow and in 2008 WYART had tripled its offerings. In the spring C-TEC Theatre Arts program partnered with WYART to produce 13 The Musical. The summer term offered 5 workshops and had its inaugural full scale production of Annie Jr. Annie Jr. incorporated over 30 students and utilized the talents of the Weathervane Playhouse professional summer staff to design and build all of the technical elements making the production a sold-out success. In addition to expanding programming WYART began to offer the Joe Jenkins Fellowship Award, which was a stipend granted to assist budding professionals gain credits in their area of interest.
In 2009 the program grew to include three seasons worth of programming. In the Spring WYART collaborated with C-TEC Theatre Arts for their production of The Laramie Project. The summer held 6 workshops, and a full production of High School Musical. The fall of 2009 held three week long workshops in puppetry, acting, and dance.
2010 was an exciting, and devastating year for Weathervane Playhouse. Weathervane broke ground and enclosed its main theatre space, expanded restrooms and made the Larry W & Dawn Holt Anderson Children’s Theatre climate controlled. This improvement allowed WYART classes to be held throughout the year, and allowed for enrollment sizes to expand. In the spring of 2010 WYART offered a miraculous program with certified teachers and professional director for an all autistic production of Alice in Wonderland. This production was touching and eye opening, raising awareness for the cause of autism, as well as providing a needed service to the students in the class, several students were able to make large breakthroughs.
The Summer production of Grease Jr marked the largest class to date. Enrollment reached 50 students ages 6-16. With this large amount of students the workshop produced 2 full productions of Grease Jr, which were rehearsed simultaneously, and produced in repertory style.
Unfortunately all of the excitement for our new facilities was clouded by the passing of beloved Artistic Director Matthew Trombetta. Matthew’s love for the theatre, and theatre education however continued to shine throughout that summer and the WYART program flourished, and honored his memory with two very important firsts. Our first fall production of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, and the first scholarship awards for students with financial need.
Over the last six years WYART has continued to build its year round programming of core curriculum, workshop and production classes. In addition to its own core program WYART has collaborated with local groups including The WORKS, Autism Speaks and Licking County Libraries. WYART now offers six productions a year, a full core curriculum of classes that are designed to build skill levels in multiple areas, two different student scholarships, and attracts degreed professional faculty members with unique expertise.